The following is the gist of interpellations at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on Feb. 2:
Fumio Kishida (Liberal Democratic Party [LDP]): The ROK and North Korea are now engaged in dialogue, taking advantage of the PyeongChang Olympic Games.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe: We see this as a good thing, but North Korea continues to develop nuclear arms and missiles even as this takes place. It is a great mistake to think that part of North Korea’s nuclear arms development is permissible for the sake of arriving at a peaceful solution. Making North Korea abandon its nuclear and missile programs is a nonnegotiable goal for Japan.
PyeongChang Olympics opening ceremony
Toshiaki Endo (LDP): We hope that you engage in active diplomacy at the PyeongChang Olympics opening ceremony.
Abe: We will cooperate for the success of the PyeongChang Olympics and engage in active publicity for the Tokyo Olympics.
U.S. return to the TPP
Noritoshi Ishida (Komeito): President Donald Trump has mentioned the possibility of returning to the TPP.
Abe: We will renew our efforts to persuade the U.S. that the TPP is beneficial for the U.S. economy and employment.
Moritomo Gakuen affair
Tomoko Abe (Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan [CDPJ]): Have you confirmed with your wife about the audio recording of her telephone conversation with former Moritomo Gakuen President Yasunori Kagoike regarding the sale of government-owned land?
Abe: I have confirmed with my wife that she did not have such a telephone conversation. The recording was not of my wife’s words. Mr. Kagoike was the only one talking.
Hiroshi Kawauchi (CDPJ): A discount of some 800 million yen was granted even though a “price assessment report” required for selling government land was not drawn up. You should ask the Finance Ministry and other offices to reinvestigate this matter.
Abe: I had absolutely nothing to do with this and neither did my wife or my office. No evidence whatsoever (of any involvement) has been presented so far. As to the technical details, only the relevant offices will be able to answer your questions. I don’t know myself. I will continue to give honest answers if further questions are asked in the future. (Abridged)